As triathletes, we spend countless hours a week training for the three important disciplines of swimming, biking, and running. After working our butts off on the road and in the pool, the last thing we generally want to do is to go to the gym.
Those muscle-bound freaks throwing weights around and grunting loudly can’t teach us anything, right? Well, not necessarily.
You see, functional strength work in the gym can not only prevent injuries, but also give you that final higher gear at the end of a sprint triathlon. In addition, core exercised designed to target your abs, obliques, and lower back, can help you retain better posture during long hours running and cycling, reducing fatigue. Finally, gym workouts can be a great mood enhancer or rut-buster if you begin to get bored doing the same triathlon workouts every week.
Let’s get started. Here are some of the major muscle groups used by each triathlon event.
Swimming: abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, trapezius, pectorals, and deltoids
Cycling: QUADS, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and more quads
Running: hamstrings, quads, glutes, abdominals, and calves
(If you’re unfamiliar with any of these, check out https://www.freetrainers.com/exercise/muscles/ for a great step-by-step clickable walk-through.)
Now that we know what muscles we’d like to target, let’s develop a training plan. It should be efficient, simple, and practical. The best way to meet this criteria is to incorporate compound, multi-muscle exercises, as opposed to exercises targeted at only a single muscle at a time, such as single-arm bicep curls. Every triathlete is pressed for time, and this workout will get you out of the gym in 45 minutes or less (or your money back).
Without further ado, here is your 45-minute triathlon gym workout. Do them in this order with 60-90 seconds rest in between sets. Choose the weights to be difficult but not impossible. At the end of each set you should feel as though you could’ve done one or two more repetitions. For advanced gym rats, raise the weight for each set and reduce the reps each time (for example, 10, 8, 6).
- Warmup: jog, row, or jump rope until you break a light sweat
- Squats: 3 sets of 10
- Barbell bench press: 3 sets of 10
- Deadlift: 3 sets of 10
- Pull-ups: 3 sets, each just short of failure. If you’re unable to do pull-ups, you can do lat pull-downs.
- Standing dumbbell press: 2 sets of 10
- Front planks: 3 sets of 30-60 seconds each (or until failure)
- (If time permits) Side planks: 2 sets, each side, of 30-60 seconds each (or until failure)
And…you’re done! Wipe down that bench and reflect on your successful gym workout. A once- or twice-weekly gym session can bust through plateaus and make you look better in a t-shirt. And you just crushed it.
Not familiar with any of these exercises? No problem. Watch the videos below to learn how to do them with perfect form. You can also ask an attendant in your gym – they are usually very helpful and want their users to do all their exercises safely and correctly.
Standing overhead dumbbell press:
Front & side planks: